Tar-Baby - Racist Interpretation

Racist Interpretation

Although the term's provenance rests in African folklore (i.e., the gum doll Anansi created to trap Mmoatia, the dwarf), some Americans consider "tar baby" to be a pejorative term for African Americans. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "tar baby" as "a difficult problem which is only aggravated by attempts to solve it", but the subscription-only version adds a second definition: "a derogatory term for a Black (U.S.) or a Maori (N.Z.)".

Several United States politicians—including presidential candidates John Kerry, John McCain, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney—have been criticized by civil rights leaders, the media, and fellow politicians for using the "tar baby" metaphor. An article in The New Republic argued that people are "unaware that some consider it to have a second meaning as a slur" and it "is an obscure slur, not even known to be so by a substantial proportion of the population." It continued that, "those who feel that tar baby's status as a slur is patently obvious are judging from the fact that it sounds like a racial slur". In other countries, the phrase continues to refer to problems worsened by intervention.

Read more about this topic:  Tar-Baby

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